Thursday, April 4, 2013

"D" is for Deoxyribonucleic Acid

Last month I came across an article claiming that we are less than a decade away from being able to store information in our DNA. I set the article aside to read more about it later, but now I can't find it. I guess if I had the ability to convert the information into my DNA sequencing, that would no longer be a problem. I wouldn't be capable of losing stuff. Well, my car keys maybe, but not information stuff.

Searching Google to relocate this info, I learned that researchers have already encoded the "I Have a Dream" speech, the sonnets of Shakespeare and a .jpeg into synthesized DNA (click here, here, or here for info). This has all sorts of implications. The most impressive being that all the information in the entire world (about 1.8 zettabytes), could be stored in less than 4 grams of DNA. Now, I have no idea what a zettabyte is, but I'm assuming it would take a crap megaton of floppy disks to have the same amount of storage space.*

*I don't know the conversion rate from a zettabyte to a crap megaton, so you'll just have to trust me.
 It's a lot.

As impressive as that is, I am more interested in what this means for the future. Right now, they can only write onto synthesized DNA, but soon they will be able to encode the DNA we already have in our bodies. All your medical records could be stored inside your body. Once the technology got to be cheap enough, there would no longer be a need to carry ID around. All your info would be a part of your genetic make-up.

Once the technology is there to do this, anything could be stored in our DNA. iPads would become a thing of the past. You could upload your entire playlist right into your own body. In fact, a small surgical procedure would enable you to hear the songs in your head. There would be no need to worry about batteries or keep your devices charged. With special contact lenses you could watch a movie you had taken the time to upload before you left for work. Give technology a little more time and it could be hardwired into your brain to retrieve the info encoded for yourself.

All sorts of useful information could be stored in your DNA for immediate recall.
  • Phone contact list
  • Resumé
  • Travel itinerary
  • Personal calendar
  • Recipes
  • Train/Bus schedule
  • Account numbers
  • Entire libraries of books
Of course, we'd have to be careful about what we chose to put in our DNA. A criminal with the right equipment could easily drain your bank accounts within seconds of plucking a hair from your head if you stored your banking information genetically. Without proper precautions, identity theft would run rampant. Also, if we wrote data on the wrong part, it could cause us to grow an elbow out of our forehead or start crying out of our fingertips. While I'm sure there would be a internet market for elbow forehead fetish porn, I still wouldn't want it to happen to me.

Once avoiding the dangers have been figured out, how cool would it be to shake hands with someone and transfer the latest season of Breaking Bad into their genetic code. It could also save a lot of time in dating. Talk a girl into linking up with you and you could quickly scan her genetic code to find out if she listens to Nickelback so you can tell her to hit the road.

We live in an exciting time. Unfortunately, people of today would probably most use this technology to have quick access to their favorite videos of cats or people waking up from anesthesia. I think I can wait.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,968 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

69 comments:

  1. Oh I might be jumping on the slippery slope here but this is just one small step away from Big Brother, AI taking control, Zombie Apocalypse! You name it! I've mentioned before I'm a fan of technology, but seriously, when is enough going to be enough? Some of the things scientists are doing now are down right pertrifying!

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    1. I totally agree. As much as I am a fan of technology and all the coolest, latest and greatest, this will never be done to me.

      Delete
  2. I'd love to have some info about astrophysics injected into my head. Heck, I'd like to just be able to remember primary school level maths. ;)

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    1. I kept seeing the scenes from The Matrix movies. They would make a phone call and say, "I need the skill to fly this helicopter." Then 10 seconds later, it was uploaded to their brain.

      That would be so cool.

      Delete
  3. This made me laugh. I heard the same story on NPR, and just wonder: encoding info in DNA is great and all, but how does one recall it?

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    1. As of right now, putting it in your DNA is not intended for you to recall. They would have to read it. If your medical records were in your DNA and you were the victim of a car accident, the hospital could take a sample, do a DNA scan and know everything they need to from that scan.

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    2. Well that's no fun. I'm out.

      Delete
  4. Very funny, but a little scary! I'm here from the A to Z...enjoy the challenge!

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    1. Thank you. It is scary and I won't let them touch me.

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  5. I am more interested in getting my DNA tested to check my ancestry/origins!

    Good luck with the challenge.

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    1. Thank you for stopping in. I love this challenge.

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  6. Until they can ACTUALLY put it in my head, I think these super smart fringe scientists should at least fix the phone I have now to stop freezing on me. If my head "froze" on me, I wouldn't be too happy...

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    1. Just another reason why I would not have this done to myself.

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  7. It all sounds more than a little scary yet fascinating at the same time. I want it, I don't want it. I'll let you try it first lol.

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    1. I'll watch the other people that have it, but I'm quite content with my high speed internet.

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  8. This is very disconcerting, and I sure hope it is after my time here on earth is done. Happy D Day!
    tm

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    1. It is quite scary. Other than medicines to make me better when I'm sick, I don't want my body messed with.

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  9. I know I can wait. I don't even have a cell phone, so I'm kinda off the grid so to speak. Science will make us all robots if we aren't careful.

    Great job today. I'm learning all kinds of wonderful things as you do the A to Z.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I find this very interesting, but am not at all interested in having it done to me. More than happy to wait.

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  10. Like they say, the future is already here. Some of the ramifications you mention are mind boggling.

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  11. Good Lord that is SCARRY! Dang.

    It would be nice, though, never losing anything again. Like PIN numbers for example. ;)

    Terri @ Scribbler’s Sojourn
    Facebook / Twitter

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    1. Yes, we wold just need of way of reading them. Maybe a digital scanner built into our fingertip.

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  12. This is just too weird for me, and a whole lot of creepy too!

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    1. I couldn't agree more. I will not be signing up for this.

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  13. One thing you can bet on is I'll be checking behind peoples ears before I shake their hands. In the words of my 3 year old hooked up with iPad and toy Elmo FlipFone, "Are you kiddin' me, Elmo!" :)

    Thanks for stopping by my Letter D post and sharing your Quilt Story of your grandmothers legacy. Sounds like your DNA is well supplied with appreciation and much more. I'd shake your hand....no ear exam first!
    Sue~CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

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    1. Thank you for the trust and for stopping in to see me.

      Delete
  14. You're probably right, Dude. And yet, we still can't cure the common cold. :-)

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    1. I'm going to get all conspiracy theorist-y.

      There is not enough money in common cold research. There wouldn't even be enough money in having the cure. It's just not big enough.

      I will stop there. That was awfully close to a political rant.

      Delete
  15. I heard something on the news where they said one day we could learn other languages just by inserting the information into our memories. Maybe that will happen through DNA. I just don't want a USB outlet installed behind my ear. Yikes...

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    1. I would love to see that, but would not let it be done to me AND I'm studying to be a language teacher.

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  16. All that kept going through my mind as I read this was "Holy Hell!" And, yet, really nothing should surprise me, I can only imagine how someone from the 1800's would flip out by entering our world now!

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    1. I know, right? I think a jump from even 20 years ago would be a shock. I can't imagine 200.

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  17. what was the name of the show...oh Tek Wars...didn't they have people that could upload info into their brains...and Johnny Newmonic (spelling issue). It's an intriguing idea and scary too.

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    1. I don't remember Tek Wars, Johnny Numonic was good if I remember right. Keanu Reeves, I think.

      Trippy stuff.

      Delete
  18. Johnny Mnemonic is a classic movie along these lines. I just may have to dig it up and watch it this week. :)

    Try googling Ray Kurzweil and read about his idea of, "the singularity," if you want more future shock along these lines.

    Fun to think about, but kinda scary stuff, too!

    Tui Snider
    visiting from the #AtoZchallenge
    Twitter: @mentalmosaic
    Blog: http://www.mentalmosaic.com/blog

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    1. Kurzweil is an interesting character. I may have to read his books.

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  19. On last night's news was a little blurb about the anniversary of the old 2-lb Motorolla cell phone. An old codger being interviewed observed that holding a phone to our ear is really silly and that surely technology will soon enable us to install the "phone" right into our body. But he still wants and on/off button. (Returning the visit from A to Z)

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    1. i could see that technology coming soon, but I have to agree with him. I would definitely want to be able to turn it off.

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  20. Well, I don't know if this should have been posted on April 1 or not, but it sounds scary to me. I think technology has gone to far this time. I appreciate your research and interest in this area but I think science may be treading on sacred ground. Anyways, welcome to the A-Z challenge. Good luck to you!

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    1. I am 100% with you. I find it very interesting, but it is not something that needs to be messed with. Technology may move forward, but I do know this is something that will never be done on me.

      Delete
  21. Yep, DNA data-storage is a futurist's wet dream. Imagine having all human knowledge with you? You could drop a couple of people on a planet and they can go from stone-age to information age in only as long as it takes them to mine and refine all the tools and infrastructure they need.

    Also, if you combine such possibilites with theories like panspermia - maybe we already have messages within us!

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    1. That would be a fantastic use of the technology. I don't believe in the panspermia theory, but technology is far enough along, it's not really much of a stretch.

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  22. Hold on, they can't invent a laptop that doesn't freeze, or filter spam properly and they want to insert some whojamiflip into my DNA?? Nah-uh, not gonna happen.

    Loved this post. :)

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    1. Exactly, I haven't seen any fail-proof technology yet. They are not touching me.

      Delete
  23. Dear Brett, not only are you brilliant, you have the sort of wit which is drier than the driest of martinis. I don't drink, but I am shaken,stirred and impressed!My husband loves your writing too! You have my vote for one of the coolest entries of the day!
    jean yates A to Z

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    1. Thank you. Thank you. I enjoy subtle humor, but I also like the sophomoric stupid stuff as well.

      I appreciate your vote.

      Delete
  24. Thanks for the info. I did not know that DNA was short for such a long word. Wow

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    1. Luckily, they use the letters rather than expecting people to remember the entire word.

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  25. I like the idea of DNA used as storage, but don't like the idea of criminals exploiting that.

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    1. The criminal element is always there. I'm sure they would have some sort of anti-theft system, but like most technology, it would take a while for the protective tech to catch up. And the laws would be about 15 years behind.

      Delete
  26. I'm sorry but I'm not letting anyone touch my genetic code. I think it has to be about the journey of learning all that stuff not about just shoving it into your cells. Great post.

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    1. No one is touching mine either. I can't imagine being the first to volunteer for this when it comes time.

      Delete
  27. Stopped by after I found your comment and your post is awesome...and creepy =). I think I'll keep my music on my ipod for a bit. Although, it would be easier to run and not have to worry about my batteries.

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    1. Thank for coming back over. Most my posts aren't creepy, but this was a creepy topic. As cool as it sounds, they will never do it to me.

      Delete
  28. The moment I read this I immediately thought, "people will just look up cat videos with it. Why bother." Humanity makes me sad.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. It's awesome you thought the same thing. Or maybe it's sad that we understand the simplicity of people's minds.

      Delete
  29. It's a completely fascinating concept, but sadly it just ends up hurting my brain when I try to figure out the logistics of it. But then, I still don't understand how televisions or cameras work, so you can imagine DNA encoding would be a bit too much for me.

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    1. That's what we pay the lab monkeys for. We don't have to know.

      Delete
  30. That's a terrifying idea. I can understand why it could be good, like not needing to carry an ID anymore (which would be handy for those of us who change our hair every two months). However, the idea that somebody could just steal your entire life by getting you to sneeze on them or taking your hairbrush is terrifying.

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    1. Yes. I think I see a possible futuristic sci-fi crime movie being born out of this.

      Delete
  31. I heard about this too. Would be nearly impossible to monitor for students and exam type of things....plus you could never lie again, they will probably have a device to record your every move without you even knowing it. Way too intense for my life!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog :) That is great you grew up with horses...lucky guy ;)

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    1. You came back quickly.

      I don't know how many of the scenarios I imagines would actually happen with this technology, but it is fun to think about.

      Delete
    2. Did you hear about the guy with the bionic eye? He lives around the corner from me....just to give you an idea of what is possible with very little technology :)

      Delete
  32. Just think of all the teenage girls who would be so relieved that they don't have to lie and say the love football (or video games or Nickelback) just to impress a boy. Cause now that boy would already know after linking up.

    Very interesting.

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    1. It would save a lot of time and a lot of broken hearts.

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  33. Hi Brett, It might be cool to transfer data so easily, but it doesn't look very comfortable from that photo, but I don't even have pierced ears, so... God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

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    1. I don't think I would want to have any type of port installed. I'll stick to just reading about other people dong it.

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Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.